I discovered this activity (one of my favorites) several years ago while watching a consultant. Although she used the activity to make a different point, I thought that it was a perfect way to demonstrate the importance of Inspiring a Shared Vision and adapted it accordingly. I use this as an introductory activity; it not only serves as a humorous energizer, but also makes a great visual to create the lesson. I do not know the originator of the exercise, but KUDOS to that person.
"I need everyone to close your eyes. Now, keeping your eyes closed, point north. Point so I can see where you are pointing."(You will hear nervous laughter).
"Keeping your hands where they are, you may now open your eyes and look around the room."(People will be pointing in all directions, and you will hear more laughter).
"Now put your hands down before you embarrass yourself. It is obvious that we have some navigationally challenged people in the room."
"Our job as a leader is to get everyone pointing in the same direction. (Point north).
"If we are all going in different directions, then we will never be successful in accomplishing our goals. And we can only truly get people to go in the same direction if we work together to decide where "we" want to go. A shared vision is just that — shared. If I try to impose my vision on you, you might think to yourself, that may be your vision, but that's not my vision and there will be no ownership of the vision. The way we get ownership is to talk with folks, formally and informally, to see what their dreams and aspirations are. This will help us, as leaders craft a vision that will be owned and supported."